Cycling UK has welcomed the opportunities presented by the Welsh Government’s consultation Taking forward Wales – sustainable management of natural resources, calling them “a landmark step towards increasing the opportunities for cycling, health and rural tourism.”
Launched on Wednesday, June 21st, the Welsh Government presented a number of proposals designed to “Maintain and enhance the resilience of [Wales’] natural resources and ecosystems.”
It follows on from the 2015 consultation titled Improving opportunities to access the outdoors for responsible recreation. Cycling UK and OpenMTB in their joint response called for increased cycle access in Wales and an outdoor access code to ensure responsible behaviour from all users, among a number of other measures. The consultation received 5,796 total responses, with over 4,000 responses backing Cycling UK and OpenMTB’s Trails for Wales campaign.
Cycling UK has therefore welcomed the Welsh Governments proposals to allow cycling and horse riding on footpaths, similar to those provided for cycling on bridleways under the Countryside Act 1968. This would dramatically increase where people who cycle and ride horses can go, as currently they are only legally entitled to use 21 per cent of the rights of way network in Wales.
Equally, the national cycling charity has been positive about the proposals for the development of a “statutory code for access to the outdoors for recreation similar to that in place in Scotland under the Land Reform [Scotland] Act 2003.” Similar increased access policies introduced in Scotland through the Land Reform [Scotland] Act 2003 have benefited the Scottish economy. A Transform Scotland report estimated off road and leisure cycle tourism contribute between £236.2m and £358m per year, and Cycling UK is keen to see Wales benefit similarly.
Cycling UK chief executive Paul Tuohy said: “This is a landmark step towards increasing the opportunities for cycling, health and tourism; it shows a commendable and forward thinking approach that we have come to expect from the Welsh Government.
“Thanks to the incredible support for our Trails for Wales campaign, the Welsh Government has clearly listened and seen the massive benefit cycling can have. We’re not just talking here about the rural economy, but also the nation’s physical and mental wellbeing. Cycling UK will now be looking to put together its response and speaking with other groups such as the British Horse Society and the Ramblers to ensure that the Welsh countryside can be enjoyed by as many people as possible without fear of conflict.”